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Cita Stelzer Education. (2013) 'Dinner With Churchill Policy-Making at the Dinner Table.'

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London 5, Britain 5, Mrs. Nesbit 5, Europe 4, U.s. 4, Roosevelt 4, Churchill 3, Alexander Hamilton 3, Eisenhower 3, Franklin Roosevelt 2, Eliot Spitzer 2, Winston 2, Hamilton 2, James G. Blaine 2, Soviet Union 2, Chartwell 2, David Petraeus 2, Winston Churchill 2, Truman 2, Blaine 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Cita Stelzer  Education.  (2013) 'Dinner With  
   Churchill Policy-Making at the Dinner Table.'  

    February 18, 2013
    9:45 - 10:30am EST  

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>> who are the founders of cordoba house, and there's new word about this being a terrorist command center, etc., etc. these are people who i've known for many years who have spoken of building an institution supported by the muslim community that would be of service to the entire nation. and cordoba house was the fruit of their vision. >> you can watch this and other m programs online at booktv.org. >> up next on booktv, cita stelzer talks about the dinners hosted by winston churchill during and after world war ii which were used to persuade world leaders to adopt his position on various matters. it's about 40 minutes. >> good evening.
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thank you all for coming. i'm delighted to see you here to talk about my new book, "dinner with churchill: policy making at the dinner table." since my book is all about the importance of dinners, be assured that i will not make you late for your own dippers. -- dinners. i will be brief, i just want to whet your appetite so that you'll buy my book. do you want to -- let's try another sentence. i have lived with winston churchill for four years, and it was wonderful. even though that took place in the frigid archives after churchill college. i'm often asked where i got the idea for still another book on churchill to add to the thousands already written. well, i've read many books about this fascinating man and notice that many of his important accomplishments were achieved at dinners, sometimes at lunches. so i began to wonder why that
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was so, why most of the deals that were struck at the famous international conferences held during world war ii were made at or facilitated by dinners at which the leaders were more relaxed than at formal sessions. so i began digging into the churchill archives. not only did i find menus for the more famous dinners with presidents roosevelt and truman and with stalin, but there were details of churchill carefully setting the stage for dinners with his generals, political friends and foes, leading academics and a host -- pardon the pun -- of interesting people. his dinners usually included 12-15 people and very often members of his own family. and staged these dinners is the right description as churchill, indeed, loved to perform at these affairs. he loved company, he loved the attention he got as he entertained, and more important, wooed his guests. at one dinner he described with
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great exuberance is naval battle using wine glasses and decanters to show the positions of the ships and blowing smoke from his cigar to imitate the cannon fire. [laughter] it would have been wonderful to have been there. the topics at churchill's table were wide ranging; floating harbors, movies. that hamilton woman was a great favorite of churchill's. and, of course, politics. his curiosity was boundless. many of his guests wrote to friends or recorded in their diaries his conversation repeated his anecdotes and commented on the food he served. in addition, i found hundreds of bills for dinners he gave at the london hotels, the ritz and the savoy. with guest lists, amended wine lists. many letters from churchill complaining about overbilling, thanking fizz friends for gift -- his friends for gifts of food and wines all in the archives, all set out in my book.
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i have produced many of the menus in my book in case any of you want to try to duplicate one or two of them at a special party at home. the wine lists might be harder for you to replicate since so many decades have passed since churchill placed his orders. i have also noted his musical choices should you be in the mood to hire a band for your party, your churchill party. i wrote about all of this because they shed light on the care churchill took to make these meals productive, to sell his policies. they also show how his staff struggle today meet his requirements in -- struggled to meet his requirements in such remote places as tehran and yalta. i describe his choice of and use of cigars to prolong after-dinner discussions. my research told me what he ate and what he drank and with whom and how he interacted with staff and with the british people during the war. somehow, my hero turned to reality, a human being with definite reactions, very negative reactions to white house cooking, to mixed
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cocktails served by hosts to him across the world, to cheap cigars -- which the u.s. military tried to get away with giving him -- to arguments from his generals and to diet warnings and suggestions from his wife. these were largely ignored, especially the one that involved his eating only tomatoes. as i dug into all these materials, it became clear to me that for someone with churchill's great conversational skill and his ability to create a congenial setting, meals had an advantage over most kinds of meetings. they could be as long as he liked, and in the case of dinners, they could run into the wee hours when churchill gathered strength and others tired. his daughter, mary, reports that luncheon and dinner conversations often became so extended that meal times tended to prolong themselves far into the afternoon or evening with luncheons lasting sometimes until half past three. a typical evening, let's say, at
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checkers which is the prime minister's country house would begin at 8:30 with champagne in the drawing room. dinner would last from 9 to 10, 10:30, then cigars after the ladies were excused. when the men had rejoined the ladies 20 minutes or a half hour later, a movie would be shown even in wartime until about midnight when churchill would announce, "now to work." and he would dictate or work until 2 or 3:00 in the morning. and the next morning he would wake at 7 a.m. to start work again in bed surrounded by staff and military personnel until lunch. the more i read the reports of these meals by those lucky enough to attend them, it became clear these were working meals, not social occasions. although churchill hugely enjoyed them. he did love company. churchill used those hours spent at the table to educate others about his policies, to urge them to go along and to learn from
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his guests' political and social gossip and to get news from around the world. remember, there was no 24-hour news cycle in those days, so private reports of well-placed guests were often the best source of what was going on in, say, the soviet union. his guests came from all walks of life, although both during the war there were mainly military and politicians, british and american, and when churchill felt he could tolerate it, he once in a while had to dine with charles de gaulle. [laughter] but there was always a purpose to the dinners, to advance his country's interests, to explain, to cajole, to learn, to exchange information. it was the conversation that mattered. the setting, the table and the food were the stage on which he could best performing. perform. here are just two examples of dinners with important purposes and outcomes. white house in december 1941 -- more about this later -- and a second important dinner was in august 1942 when churchill,
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after several long, grueling and dangerous flights to avoid german fighters in the air, flew to moscow to meet stalin for the first time. churchill had to bring a message that there would be no second front in 1942, an allied front that stalin hoped would divert german troops from his soviet front lines. churchill wisely took u.s. ambassador avril herriman with him to show the allies were united in this important strategic decision. after a full day of meetings, stalin invited churchill to the kremlin for a good-bye dinner, and what a dinner that was. just the two men and their interpreters serving themselves, no servants, in the kremlin. a full banquet, enough for 30 people, topped off -- pardon the pun -- with a pig's head. stalin opened his penknife, cleaned out the head, scraped out a piece of meat which he then offered to churchill on the end of his knife. churchill politely refused, not
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able to show his disgust to his new ally but commenting later to his doctor that the food was fillny. filthy. that's a quote. no matter, churchill got what he wanted, stalin agreed to the allied strategy. let me spend a few minutes on what i mean when i say that churchill's attention to detail was stunning. he designed the table at his country home chartwell. it was to be round and six feet in diameter. he told his wife to order chairs with arms to allow for relaxation. to ease the conversation and to permit his guests to to be comfortable for long periods of time. in a letter he wrote, quote: one does not want the dining room chair spreading itself or its arms as if it were a plant. she, in like vein, quote: digested his dissertation. he always planned the seating to make sure that the conversation flowed. in my book there's an excerpt from his long memo on the proper
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design of dining rooms. so if any of you has in mind redoing your own dining room, let me know, and i'll get you a copy of his memo. in 1909 the newlywed churchills bought a house in london. his mother and clemy decorated it, and churchill added a dining room at the back of the house. they employed a cook, two maids and a butler. roy jenkins, a very good biographer, said of churchill, quote: he was not mostly good at bilateral conversation, but with a table he could often be brilliant. if i could dine with stalin once a week, there would be no trouble, churchill said. the british and commonwealth countries had been at war for over a year when pearl harbor was attacked. churchill knew that the u.s. would be at war and wanted to insure that america would not concentrate on fighting japan first instead of fighting hitler in europe.
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churchill at once decided to travel to washington to meet with roosevelt and move into the white house for three weeks. was in the beginning of the special relationship? perhaps. now the british had a formidable ally. when churchill lived with roosevelt in the white house sharing every meal -- but not breakfast -- they agreed, among other things, to establish a combined chiefs of staff. military staff from each of the services would work together with their counterparts, all policies and strategies would be shared between the two countries. it seems to me that these dinners were immensely important. they set up the structure that would prosecute the war to a successful conclusion. it's agreed by almost everyone at the roosevelt white house that the cook -- not chef in those days -- was the worst cook in history. [laughter] henrietta necessary bit's menus included chipped beef on toast with mushrooms, boiled broccoli,
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bavarian cream pie, molded jell-o salads, shredded cheese with tomatoes. out of fashion foods today, surely, and were still by all accounts badly prepared. even fdr complained about her food, but mrs. nesbit was kept on the job. no wonder president roosevelt looked forward to his famous children's hour, the time when he mixed his before-dinner lethal martinis. churchill was, of course, on his best behavior, so he could not have complained about the food or mixed cocktails, although one source says they saw the prime minister empty his martini glass into a nearby potted plant. la. [laughter] another said that he spit out the olives. churchill's only comment on white house food came when opinion of the presence favored pig's knuckle, he did find they were a bit slimy. british guests having lived with rationing at home ate like mad
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in the white house, sometimes two meals at once. according to mrs. nesbit. two eggs every morning in the u.s., at home the british got one egg per week under rationing. mrs. nesbit served chicken a la king two or three times a week, much to roosevelt's disgust. but the british guests must have loved it as chicken was rationed in britain except for churchill who, quote, did not like his chicken messed about with. one quick word about churchill's cook, the beloved by all, mrs. land mere. she cooked for the churchill family in the 1930s and moved to downing street and stayed with the family until 1953 when churchill was again prime minister. she was a superb and, more important, an unflappable cook. she knew what churchill liked, and she cooked it for him, unlike mrs. nesbit. despite the bombing of london and the ever-changing plans and guests, she took care of
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churchill and called that her, quote, her war work. now, churchill was a leaf that did not fall far from the tree. his mother, the charismatic and beautiful jenny jerome, born in brooklyn, new york, had been a much admired society hostess in london. she was famous for inviting known political enemies to dinner and seating them so as to facilitate discussion. churchill once praised his mother by saying that in his interests she, quote: had left no cutlet uncooked. churchill must have learned from her early on how to manage a dinner for his own purposes. in the book i describe how he deployed this skill, this attention to detail. at his birthday party dinner in tehran in 1943, he arranged the seating himself. at potts dam he had his staffers construct a table that could accommodate the 28 guests he had chosen. he then had his staff sit down at the table to see how close together or far apart the guests
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would be. imagine the staff persons spreading their elbows out like this watching churchill for his approval to make sure that the seating was the way he wanted it. at this important dinner, churchill would be meeting with president truman for the first time. churchill amended the menu to add another course, ham salad, and nobody knows what he had in mind when he added that course to the menu. a further thought on interpreters, should they sit in between or slightly behind the participants? churchill decided to place the interpreters slightly behind, not at the dinner table. this arrangement once again facilitated the conversation. let me add a few words about what this rather rotund man liked to eat. the answer is churchill liked plain, simple food perfectly cooked. no french sauces, no fancy pies, no concoctions.
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as i have said, churchill did not like his chicken messed about with. his favorite meal would be clear consomme or turtle soup, never cream. it had to be, quote, limpid. perhaps some smoked salmon, meat, roast chicken, game if in season or rare roast beef. he was, after all, english. and for dessert what churchill called his pudding; ice cream and perhaps chocolate sauce and then a peeled pear and roque further. another word on consomme, which churchill loved. at the end of a workday, the prime minister would say soup out loud very loudly. staff heard it. that was a signal that the working day was over. the secretaries could leave to begin typing up the day's memos, and he would have his cold, jellied consomme which he always
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ate before going to bed. churchill loved all game, especially goose. and he raised geese on his farm at chartwell. at one dinner as the roasted goose was laid in front of him at the table, he said, quote: you carve, clemy. this goose was a friend of mine. [laughter] in all my research into churchill's life, i never found a mention of a vegetable, and he made fun of vegetarians whom he called nut eaters. at a meeting he quipped to lord chirwell and sir stafford -- [inaudible] both nut eaters, well, gentlemen, if you have finished toying with your beetroot, we will get on to more important matters. and another thing, all the nut eaters i have known died early after a long period of senile decay. anotherture chill favorite food
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was irish stew with plenty of onions and, surprisingly, sometimes pineapple. this was a dinner that churchill served to eisenhower when they planned the invasion of europe. and, of course, caviar. churchill loved caviar. he was thrilled when stalin sent him vats of caviar or when harry hopkins brought caviar back as a gift from the soviet union. churchill ate small portions. when traveling, he had his meals served on his, quote, tummy time, not on the clock's. churchill loved picnics. whatever the place or the weather, even in wartime. there's a wonderful photo in my book showing churchill in a three-piece soup enjoying a picnic tea sitting on a rock by the side of the road. he picnicked with roosevelt at hyde park, he picnicked on the banks of the rhine with his generals and in the north african desert with friends. he established his own picnic
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rituals, enthusiastically singing old indian army toasts and calling for verses that could only be recited at picnics. much has been said and written about churchill and alcohol, some of it true, most not, some exaggerated. i go into detail in the book about churchill's drinking habits. churchill had been told -- roosevelt, sorry, had been told that churchill was a drunk, a charge one or two of his critics repeated. now, churchill did consume more alcohol than we're used to today, but not a great deal by the standards of his contemporaries. and drink did not affect him or his work. churchill drank a small amount of whiskey with soda, no ice in a glass about this big. his staff called it mouthwash. at lunch and dinner, he drank a half a bottle of champagne. now, that's a different size than the half bottles we know,
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smaller than our half bottles today, as well as a brandy or two. so let's talk about champagne, churchill's favorite drink. we are not sure when he first discovered champagne, but he preferred that champagne to all the others. his favorite vintage was the 1928. on each of his birthdays, o debt paul roget sent him a case of the 1928 until the supplies ran out in 953. when churchill died in 965, he had 078 gone through the 1934 vintage. after his death madam paul roget ordered that all bottles imported into britain would have a black mourning band stripped across the bottle. every dinner and every important occasion throughout his life was marked with champagne. after dinner churchill drank brandy neat. and by the way, he drank brandty, not port. early in his life a doctor had
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recommended brandy instead of port. this is one of the few times he followed a doctor's orders. [laughter] perhaps knowing that port would be bad for what he called his indie, always patting his stomach when he said this, his indigestion, something he suffered from occasionally which is not surprising given the meals he had with the likes of stalin. by our modern standards, this is quite a large amount of alcohol, but churchill was never incapacitated. i've read many journals and diaries of the people who dined with him, and many agree that alcohol enhanced his enjoyment and his phenomenal ability to talk. at one point churchill asked hopkins why the water in his glass tasted so funny. hopkins told him it tasted funny because there was no whiskey in it. [laughter] he was not affected by alcohol and it never interfered with his work. could he have been prime minister during the war and -- [inaudible]
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i think not. only two people wrote that churchill was the worse for wear because of alcohol. one was a soviet staff member reporting to stalin what he thought stalin wanted to hear. the second was a private secretary or to anthony eden who also would have liked to report to his boss that churchill was drunk, but churchill would never have been able to work as he did for so many years and so successfully if alcohol had taken hold of him. churchill very much enjoyed the legend of his drinking and added to it by boasting of the amounts he consumed, a sort of macho habit in which he loved to indulge, a tough british bulldog who could drink with the best of them down at the pub or the local, as it's known in britain. another churchill favorite indulgence, si fares. he had three uses for cigars. the first was the sheer pleasure, the enjoyment of the flavor of a goodie garre and the -- goodie garre and the fever of relaxation that the
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smoke brings. the second was as a trademark. sorry. churchill was too shrewd a politician not to realize that his cigar had become an iconic symbol of his grit in the face of adversity. just as fdr's jaunty cigarette holder had become the american president's symbol. touring a devastated area of london, cigar clenched between his teeth or in his hand as he waved at the crowds somehow showed that both he and britain were indomitable. the third use was to extend the length of dinners at which he planned to sell his policy and to learn from statesmen, scientist, soldiers, friends and opponents. after dinner light a good, long cigar and pass around others from his humidors, and he'd recount on another few hours of good talk at a time when others were exhausted, but he was at his best. this was not always appreciated by the war-weary admirals and
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generals that were often included on his guest lists, but all in all, it was a part of dinner with churchill that most guests treasured and remembered and wrote about. there's a wonderful story about cigars and churchill's personal security in my book, but it's too long to go into tonight. i do hope you'll read it. a word about rationing. during the war years, food and other commodities were strictly rationed in britain. how did churchill manage? first of all, he played by the rules of his own government. for each dinner at checkers, the prime minister's country house or at downing street, he requested extra rations, listing the guests and what was required for every dinner. his staff needed extra rations so the prime minister could get a summer weight suit for his trip to cat blank ca to meet -- casablanca to meet with president roosevelt. any unused ration coupons were returned to the government. the british people suffered
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under rationing, and churchill wanted them to see that he, too, was subject to the law. but churchill did benefit from gifts from fans around the world and at home. some british people had home grown foods to share with their prime minister, the king sent game from his lands, others sent fish from their streams or cheeses made on their farms. president roosevelt sent food parcels. marshall tito sent a case of plum brandy. tangerines came from lisbon, and smithfield hams from an american admirer. and, of course, thousands of cigars from all over the world. churchill worried about the effects of rationing on the people's energy levels, their diets, their morale, their spirit. he worried about everything, no detail was too trivial. for example, he worried that british bees would not get enough sugar to get through the winter. sugar was then rationed. when he was asked by his staff
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what they should do about providing fish, he declared his policy to be, quote, utmost fish. that the supply, he worried that the supply of salt and vinegar remained stable, important for chips or french fries as we call them. i do hope you will read my book. it's full of photos with much new information about the wit and wisdom of winston churchill. there's also a very funny story in the there about plovers eggs which is too complicated to tell you about here. i hope i bring to light the two sides of this great man; the effort he put into getting adopted the policies he felt to be in his country's interests and the human side of churchill, his huge enjoyment of life, his exuberance and charm, his energy and capacity for work, his kindness and humor, his courtesy to his guests and his generosity with his friends. he once promised, quote: i hope
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i shall always be able to provide a bottle of champagne and another one for my friend. to quote a famous historian, churchill was, quite simply, a great man. thank you. [applause] >> thank you so much. just would like to mention to even that in order to get your question on the c-span video, please wait until you're recognized, and then the microphone, in this boom stand will come to your mouth. okay? [laughter] okay. >> any questions? comments? yes. >> got it? okay. thank you so much. welcome to arizona. you made reference to the second front that stalin wanted in europe and the west, and as i
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understand it in '42 americans and british opened up a front in north africa and pushed the germans out of north africa and then began an invasion of sicily and later the italian peninsula. and was he taught -- was stalin referring to an invasion of northern france when he said a second front? and was there maybe some intense conversations, dinner conversations on this topic where they, you know, really got into the meat of this? >> churchill and roosevelt -- [inaudible] combined staff knew there would not be a second front in europe in '32. and that's what they had to then go and sell to stalin. the first night of that meeting in '42, stalin was very unhappy at the meeting, and the dinner ended on a sour note. second night was an official banquet with 70 or 80 people, a little different. the third night that i refer to when churchill said, look, we've
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agreed there cannot be one, and stalin had to agree that there would not be one in '42. >> the italian invasion was' 43? >> yes. >> i noticed even on wikipedia that there was mention about your book and the fact that churchill had actually moved into the white house for three weeks. i found that unbelievable. that must have been really been fun times. but you said when you were talking that there were two dinners or two events, and one of them involved the white house, i think, in 1941, and you said you would -- >> december, 1941 which is the one you were referring to when churchill -- >> uh-huh, right. >> -- in great personal danger took a ship to washington, landed in washington right, three or four days before christmas and moved into the white house and stayed there for three weeks with the exception
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of of a trip to canada to give a speech and a few days that he had in florida. he lived in the white house in a bedroom, in the lincoln bedroom, and lived cheek by jowl with the president. mrs. roosevelt was not thrilled with this arrangement, because she said that, as she put it, winston kept franklin up too late. well, win son kept everybody up -- winston kept everybody up late. it wasn't just the president that he was doing that to. but there's some wonderful stories in the book about what people thought of that. and the stories about mrs. nesbit's cooking are very funny. >> i think it's fascinating that he was able to actually leave england. you know, it's like in today's world if president obama goes over to hawaii for four or five days, everybody goes crazy, you know? >> well, he did go, churchill took his staff with him, but when president obama goes, there's no, there's no danger in the way that there was danger of
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u-boats in that trip. >> sure. >> that churchill took in december, '41 is. yes? >> not really a question, but just a comment is that i was reading it, and i was getting upset at how much they were eat, and he had access to, but then you end the book with the rationing, and so it redeemed him. so i was glad you put that there, but i kind of wish it was earlier so i didn't get upset all the time. [laughter] but that was good. >> no, it was an important chapter. >> yeah, it was. >> it showed a part of churchill's character that was very important. many other people have in common. any other questions? oh, sorry. yeah. >> um, churchill was known for being a poor money manager. all of these menus that he planned and the food that he bought, did you find bills that he actually paid for everything? since he was kind of famous for not paying for suits and various
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other things in his life. >> well, i don't know about the suits, but most of the bills that i have seen -- and i've seen many of them -- are stamped "paid." for instance, well, all of the important dinners that he had for his son's 21st birthday, for instance, randall, that they were paid. i'm not clear, and that's an interesting question. i'm not clear when the dinner was and when the bill was paid. so you bring up an interesting point. but they're all paid, they're all stamped paid, and all of the bills are saved. it's not just a few of them. there are many -- there are hundreds of them. everything is saved at the archives. i don't know about the suits. >> was there any rift created between roosevelt and churchill when they took eisenhower's
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lead -- [inaudible] >> i think by that time churchill knew that what had been equal allies was no longer true and that the americans were really should have eisenhower as the leader. by that time it was clear that the americans, the war production and the number of army people that we had, that it had to be eisenhower and not a british general. thank you very much. [applause] >> booktv is on facebook. like us to interact with booktv guests and viewers, watch videos and get up-to-date information on events. facebook.com/booktv. >> i'm trying to find a new lens, if you will, a new way of studying presidential character. for example, about 12 years ago
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i wrote a book on the first ladies, and i thought that it would be important to understand the presidents from a different angle. that is, why not study the person that knew them the best? so, for example, what possibly could i as an historian contribute to the body of knowledge on lincoln or george washington? pretty much everything that could be written about lincoln or washington probably has been written. the greatest historians have spent years poring through the letters and the evidence to produce this book on lincoln or this book and the hundreds of books on washington. so my thought was, eureka, why not look at the person that knew them the best, the first lady? historians have largely ignored the role of the first lady as they've largely ignored the role of mistresses in shaping the man. why, and i suspect because a lot of my colleagues tend to be older men, educated in a certain way that didn't study such matters, and most historians, as i always say, were not educated in the matters of the heart or the harte. so, therefore, they ignore that.
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it's cannons, crowns and kings that they focus on. so by studying the first lady, for example, the first thing thomas jefferson did after spending 17 days cooped up in a lot of outside of philadelphia writing the declaration of independence, the first thing he did is he went shopping. he went shopping for martha, his wife. he missed her. she was preggers. she had had a miscarriage. he missed her, and he bought her some gloves. then he begged off from serving for the rest of that summer so he could go home monticello to be with his wife. every winter of the revolutionary war right there in camp besides george washington suffering through the freezing weather at valley forge was martha washington. with her white bonnet. right there in camp. so by studying the first ladies, we get new insights, i think, on the presidents and new insights on other things. apropos to my book, washington's closest adviser was alexander
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hamilton, and one of the chapters in the book talked about hamilton's history of womanizing. for example, bill clinton was not the first, and bill clinton was not the worse when it comes to misbehavior in high office. there's a long, long history of it. and eliot spitzer, arnold schwarzenegger, david petraeus, these guys had nothing on alexander hamilton. and what we find is if you read, for example, letters by martha washington during those winter camps, she was tough. she was like a soldier. she didn't complain about the weather, the harsh conditions, but she did complain about one thing. there was a tomcat one winter that was misbehaving with all the lady can cats, and it was noisy, noisy, noisy, and it kept her awake at night, so she nicknamed the tomcat alexander hamilton. [laughter] i also did a book a few years ago called life in the white house, and it was about the presidents at ease. what did they eat? what hobbies did they have of?
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what are their fears and hopes? or what are they like as fathers and husbands? how did their kids turn out? as another way of assessing presidential character providing us with another lens. for example, we're all still trying to figure dick nixon, right? i looked, for example, and nixon in his free time liked to bowl alone and sometimes wore a black suit to do it. i mean, that begins to explain things, right, everyone? who does this, right? who does this? [laughter] so i guess all books end up being trilogies, right, everyone? so here's the end. so "affairs of state," i've tried to take a different perspective on our presidents and, for example, we all know about george washington. but we study washington at yorktown. what brilliance. we study washington's courage, dashing crossing of the delaware christmas night which saved the revolution. but who were george washington's girlfriends when he was a kid? and you find that the teenage washington on more than one
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occasion basically goes back home in many tears because he was turned down and puts pen to paper and writes roses are red, violets are blue type of poems. he once wrote that cupid's arrow has been shot through my heart when yet another girl turned him down. so this is another look at washington. and during my doctoral study, my professors didn't tell me about washington's teenage girlfriends. so it's kind of fun, and i think it provides us with an important lens, a new way of understanding the presidents. we all to know that our country's leaders have often times been shaped by the happened of a woman, often a mother, often a wife. but i'm here to tell you sometimes it's that of a mistress as well. it's in the news today as we tape this program, general david petraeus is still dominating the headlines with his alleged affair and his misbehavior. related to the book, what my first thought was when this happened to petraeus and when it
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came out was during world war ii general eisenhower was having a long-term affair with an attractive young british driver samed kay somers by. you know, what general hires a young female model to be his aide, if you will, instead of a major or a captain or a medal winner? now, imagine if eisenhower's affair with kay somersby came out during world war ii and, as happened to petraeus, what if we got rid of ike before d day? during the great depression, franklin roosevelt was having affairs. franklin roosevelt had two very long-term affairs, one with missy he hand marguerite, his personal aide and secretary and cook and dresser -- and undresser, apparently, too. [laughter] what if we found out about fdr's miswaiver, and what -- misbehavior, and what if we threw him out of office or
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demanded his resignation as the economy was recovering? all the way back to the french and indian war. a very young george washington was writing very romantic letters to a woman who was not mrs. washington. her name was sally fairfax, a very attractive, older, sophisticated neighbor. what if washington's letters had become public during the french and indian war or the revolutionary war? much as petraeus' e-mails became public? and what if we got rid of george washington? so bill clinton's not the first and not the worst. petraeus is not the first and not the worst. been there, done that, there's a long history of it. in fact, it pains me to say that even abraham lincoln -- [laughter] visited a prostitute. i know. say it isn't so, right? but it happened. now, the details on it are sketchy. there's not a lot of letters written about this. but here's what we can piece together. lincoln's best friend was joshua
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speed, and speed was perhaps as dashing and as happened handsome and as, quote-unquote, lucky with the ladies as lincoln was allegedly homely and awkward and unlucky in romance. and speed felt sorry for lincoln. they always called one another by their last names. and speed invited lincoln to work at his general store for employment, and lincoln let speed stay upstairs at the general store. and during their friendship speed was using the services of a professional woman. okay? and you imagine lincoln upstairs, you know, with a pillow over his head trying to mind his own business as speed is doing his business. and lincoln basically says to speed, you know, i've got to have a woman, it's been too long. and here's what eye peers to have happened finish appears to have happened. only abram lincoln would do this. it appears lincoln asked speed for a letter of introduction.
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[laughter] there was an occupation that predated agriculture. what we've pieced together is lincoln visited the prostitute, and he had maybe $3 with him which was a lot of money. not eliot spitzer money, visiting escorts, but a pretty fair amount of money. and the prostitute apparently charges lincoln five bucks. which was an enormous amount of money at the time. so lincoln says to her, ma'am, i have to tell you -- honest abe, right? he says, i can't afford it. i only have three. well, she knows speed, so there's a possibility that he could pay her when he gets the money. he doesn't have the money. what we know is either, a, because lincoln got embarrassed or, b, his honor got the best of him, but when she said to lincoln you can either pay me later, or maybe this one's on the house, lincoln ran out the door. so they say when you visit a prostitute there should be a happy ending -- this is not from perm experience, by the way -- but in this case it was not a happy ending, the it was a good
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ending. so what i thought i'd do for my main body of my remarks today is tell you just a couple of my favorite stories not just about mistresses in history, but more importantly about presidential character. but don't worry, there's some juicy stories here involved. one of them involves our 22nd and our 24th president, grover cleveland. okay? now, when grover cleveland was a young man, there was a controversy because cleveland fathered a child out of wedlock. with a woman named maria hallpin from pennsylvania, and she might have been a prostitute. at the least, she was of very casual about her relationships. now, cleveland was a bachelor, and, of course, he's running in the 1880s and the 1890s so fathering a child out of wedlock was a big to do at the time. and it was such a big to do for other reasons. one was that the republican opponents of cleveland that were backing james g. blaine, the
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republican nominee, and a group of very righteous preachers started a campaign that no all in the country's safe. lock your doors. it's like dracula's here or something. cleveland's prowling the streets, debatching young women. really an agreasive campaign -- aggressive campaign. so it became a huge story because they wouldn't let it go. one of the things that saves cleveland is it turns out james g. blaine had more affairs than cleveland. so blaine was heaping all this condemnation on cleveland, and the one thing we dislike more than a politician that makes a mistake is a hypocritical politician, right? so it blew back on blaine and helped cleeve lambed. the other thing that made this a bit of a scandal was this. the republicans, again, were pushing this issue, and they would have a little kind of a jingle, little